Team-Based Learning

Team-Based Learning

Table of Contents

Team-Based Learning (TBL) provides a framework for a flipped course experience. Students prepare before class and then spend the majority of class time-solving problems together, via a Readiness Assurance Process of readings, tests, mini-lectures, and then application exercises.

TBL teachers report high levels of student attendance, preparation, participation, and critical thinking. TBL students report enjoying class and being more motivated and actively engaged.

Collaboration in teams provides students with valuable experience that is reflective of problem-solving in real-life workplace environments. Just like on the job, participants are expected to be responsible and prepared as individuals and then bring their best efforts into group activities.

Consider joining one (or more) of the Team-Based Learning programming that CELT offers throughout the academic year. 

Four Components of Team-Based Learning

The four components of TBL include permanent teams, readiness assurance, application activities, and anonymous peer evaluation. To discover more about each component click on the toggle.

  • Semester-long groups are formed strategically to accommodate and take advantage of diversity in student characteristics.
  • Long-term team building skills learned through this process are vital for the workplace.
  • Prior to each learning module, students are expected to prepare by reading material.
  • Individuals must pass a preparedness assessment before participating.
  • Teams complete a preparedness assessment together and receive immediate feedback.
  • Teams can appeal scores by challenging the clarity of specific questions or supporting their response by citing specific points in the reading material.
  • Students are expected to make decisions on significant problems, usually based on case studies or realistic data.
  • Groups spend the majority of class time solving the same significant problem, making a specific choice, and reporting decisions or conclusions simultaneously (the four s approach).
  • Activities emphasize the thinking process and discussion of ideas in decision-making as well as reporting and supporting results.
  • Instructors get clear and immediate indication of student misconceptions and overall class understanding. Students receive immediate feedback essential for learning.
  • Formative peer evaluation can be performed at one-third to half-way through semester to help individual students improve as team members.
  • Summative peer evaluation occurs at the end of the course to give students credit for team participation and contributions.

To learn more about these components, see the resources available through the ISU Library, attend an upcoming CELT TBL program, and review additional TBL essential resources listed below.

Team-Based Learning at ISU

Iowa State has an active and vibrant group of faculty and graduate students involved in TBL. See what student are saying about their experiences with TBL and how faculty are implementing it in their courses.

Engaging students in STEM by changing the classroom experience

Elgin Johnston and Heather Bolles literally turned the tables on students in their calculus courses three years ago, and the two instructors have no intention of ever turning back to just lecturing. Since ditching the traditional format for a team-based learning environment, class attendance and participation have improved and so have test scores. Johnston, a professor of mathematics at Iowa State University; and Bolles, a senior lecturer of mathematics, made the change as part of a campus-wide initiative to retain students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors. Learn more from Iowa State’s News Service web article.

College of Engineering News Report on Course Using TBL

Students benefited from applied learning working in teams in the graduate-level course, IE 576, Human Factors in Product Design. Read the Revived IMSE product design course emphasizes teamwork web article.

Team-Based Learning in Chemical Engineering

Dr. Monica Lamm, Associate Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering is one of several faculty members who have implemented the research-based flipped classroom method of Team-Based Learning (TBL) in courses at Iowa State University.

ISU Library resources

Iowa State University community members can locate these resources and more (physical and online access available). Insert the titles listed below into the Quick search via the ISU Library website.

Cover for the book Getting Started With Team-Based Learning

Sibley, J., Ostafichuk, P., Roberson, B., Franchini, B., Kubitzv, K., & Michaelsen, L. K. (2014). Getting Started With Team-Based Learning (Vol. First edition). Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.

Cover of the book of team-based Learning in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Michaelsen, L. K., & Sweet, M. (2012). Team-based Learning in the Social Sciences and Humanities : Group Work That Works to Generate Critical Thinking and Engagement (Vol. 1st ed). Sterling, Va: Stylus Publishing.

Michaelsen, L. K., Knight, A. B., & Fink, L. D. (2002). Team-based Learning : A Transformative Use of Small Groups. Greenwood Publishing Group.